Gallery education

One of the 'traditional' ways that artists can earn a living is working in a gallery education programme.

Gallery education programmes mostly - but not exclusively - run in publicly funded spaces and are a way for the gallery to engage with their audiences through talks, workshops, residencies or other public projects. Some commissioners confuse this kind of work with socially engaged practice, so it is important to clarify what is being asked for, and what the commissioners expectations are in terms of audiences, before you start work.

Artists working with young or disabled people are usually asked by their prospective employers to obtain a Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The employer requests the check by getting an application form from DBS or an umbrella organisation, then passing it on to the applicant to fill it in and return to them along with documents proving their identity. The legislation does not allow the self-employed or individuals to apply for a DBS check themselves. If you are a freelace artist and have been asked to apply for a DBS check you will need to speak to the person who asked you to apply, as you will have to request the DBS check throught them. 

A DBS certificate only contains information from a DBS check on a certain date and for a particular purpose. Any information included will be accurate at the time the check was carried out. It is up to an employer to decide if and when a new check is needed, but artists can enrol in the DBS Update service for a small additional fee and avoid having to pay for additional checks.

Some well known London galleries for education workshops are Camden Arts Centre, Whitechapel Gallery, South London Gallery, Tate and Serpentine.

A number of other online sources of information on education practices are available, the most useful first stop being engage, the national association of gallery education. Engage is a membership organisation that provides information, advice, resources, support and networking opportunities for artists working in gallery education, and their website has full information of what gallery education is and how to get work in gallery education.

Among the online films of interest in contextualising and explaining more about galery education, you could try:

Interview below with the Young People's Co-ordinator at the South London Gallery:

Interviews with five participatory artists reflecting on their practices by ArtWorks North East, a Paul Hamlyn Foundation suported project. 

Audio from an Artquest talk with experienced artist-educator Cath Hawes, talking about working in various educational contexts.

This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.